One Thing You Need to Know to Keep Your Home Organized and in Control

The way we’re inundated with images of what our homes “should” look like is unprecedented. Forget keeping up with the Joneses. We’re under subtle, even subconscious, pressure to replicate the homes of a whole universe of people we follow. (The word takes on a whole new meaning now.) And far from being the distant dreamy rooms obviously staged for a glossy magazine spread, we’re assimilating images posted by “real people just like us.”

Leaving aside the fact that even the images we see on social media are often highly staged, edited, and curated, the fact that these images are so inculcating should make us take pause. At what point do your standards become defined not by your own history or taste, but by what you see? Are you unknowingly imposing expectations on yourself—ones that are not only unrealistic, but innately unwanted?

We might feel like our drawers and pantries, for instance, need to look a certain way because it seems like everyone’s do. Their “real life” pictures and inspiring Before & Afters taunt us with the apparent ubiquity of a perfection we’re constantly clawing for. But when we struggle to uphold a standard that doesn’t fit our own lives or mentality, we’re not being true to ourselves and eventually the facade will crack.

How to Reset Your Standards for Cleanliness

You need to do one thing before you can learn how to keep your home clean: Define for yourself what your standard of “clean” looks like.

You need to honestly decide what you want to and can realistically maintain, and what systems work best for your own personal situation. Then you can let go of the unrealistic-for-you standards you may have been spending too much time and energy trying to meet.

For example, while one person might find satisfaction in keeping uniformly-folded everythings, there will be somebody else who is perfectly content tossing their unmatched socks and hastily folded shirts into their drawers. I’ve even seen that some parents have their kids just put their clothes in designated drawers, no folding required. If this is the way that works best for their family and everyone’s happy—maybe even more happy than if they forced themselves and each other to fold meticulously—why should they spend time folding laundry?

Pantry organization is another big one. The only messy pantries we see online are the “Befores” that, by that very designation, must be set aright. But what if buying matching modular storage isn’t in your budget? Or what if it is but you can’t think of anything more dull than spending money on pantry organization? Maybe you bought into the ideal and now every time you bring groceries home, you dread decanting all the cereal into their matching containers. Eventually these containers will fight for space with the cereal boxes that you’re not emptying out and that, frankly, you enjoy reading while you eat your breakfast.

The point is the same: Setting your own goals and living according to a standard that works in your particular household will work out best in the long run.

Do What’s Right for You

As long as we do what works for our lives and make deliberate decisions about the level of organization we wish to achieve and maintain, it’s “right”—specifically because it’s right for us . It’s not Instagram-perfect drawers and pantries that make you happy in your home, anyway. Peaceful homes come from those considered, subjective habits you put into place solely because they support the life you choose to live.

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